Feeds

NHTCU disappears into SOCA

New crime busting agency to be more effective...or not?

The Power of One Infographic

The Government yesterday launched the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), dubbed the British FBI, with the aim of tackling drug trafficking, organised immigration crime, money laundering, and identity fraud.

The new agency is drawing on officers from the former National Crime Squad and National Criminal Intelligence Agency. Drug trafficking intelligence officers from HM Revenue and Customs and specialist organised immigration crime officers from the Immigration Service are also involved.

One function of SOCA is to replace the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU). The NHTCU, launched in April 2001, was the UK's first national law enforcement organisation dealing exclusively with computer crime, such as computer-related fraud, hacking, industrial espionage, viruses and denial of service, child porn, and software piracy.

According to home secretary Charles Clarke, the agency "will work across operational boundaries to tackle the problem, focusing its resources on where the harms are the greatest. Drug and people trafficking will be its top priorities along with fraud and identity theft."

Agents will "exploit hi-tech 21st century technology and uncover the new wave of crime bosses", he added. "They will draw on new powers of search, seizure and interrogation to provide a specialised and relentless attack on organised crime, alongside existing law enforcement agencies."

But Struan Robertson, editor of OUT-LAW, said today: "It is surprising and a little disappointing that the NHTCU isn't even mentioned in the publicity material for SOCA. While SOCA's manifesto includes combating frauds that use the internet, we really can't say whether SOCA will be more effective than the NHTCU."

Robertson says it is too early to say if it will or will not bring more cyber criminals to justice. "But the biggest problem is likely to be resource: the remit of SOCA is wide and it will need to prioritise," he said. The SOCA Board has already suggested that only 10 per cent of SOCA's effort will be directed at fraud – which will include phishing and investment or advance fee frauds.

Another problem could be that, if the frauds are the work of an individual, not an organised crime syndicate, they may be beyond SOCA's reach. "Such crimes were of concern to the NHTCU, but if SOCA doesn't get involved, would they be left to local police, who won't be as well equipped to investigate and bring cyber criminals to justice?" asked Robertson. "We've sought clarification from the Home Office, but haven't had a response yet."

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
Price cuts, new features coming for Office 365 small biz customers
New plans for companies with up to 300 staff to launch in fall
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.